For the past two weeks, illness has made the Dobson boys basketball team short-handed for practices and games.
The Mustangs sure weren’t going to complain when the shoe was on the other foot.
Corona del Sol played without star point guard Casey Benson on Tuesday night and Dobson took advantage. The Mustangs turned up the defensive intensity in the second half to pull away for a 62-54 win in an important Division I power point game.
Four losses in the past five games had dropped Dobson (16-10) to No. 19 in the power rankings, but this win over No. 3 Corona del Sol could clinch a playoff spot.
The Aztecs led by a point at the half but only shot 29 percent (8-for-28) after intermission.
“I thought we closed it out well,” Dobson coach Rick McConnell said.
Dobson hit 11 3-pointers in the game, including five by Kodi Justice (16 points). There was a stretch in the second half in which five of the Mustangs’ six field goals were 3-pointers, and the majority were open looks.
“Our thing is to attack and penetrate to get (easier) shots instead of just forcing it over somebody,” Justice said. “We’re such good shooters that sometimes we force them.”
Jaron Hopkins led Dobson with 17 points and added seven rebounds as the Mustangs shook off an early 11-point deficit to take control.
Benson injured his ankle in a loss to Hamilton on Friday, but coach Sam Duane expects him back on Thursday against Marcos de Niza.
Cassius Peat picked up the bulk of the scoring load early on and Corona del Sol jumped out to a 17-8 lead six minutes into the contest. The margin stayed close until midway through the third quarter, when an 8-1 run put the Mustangs up by seven.
Corona (20-4) cut the deficit to three points on a basket by Peat to open up the fourth quarter with but would get no closer. Peat finished with 15 points while Bryan Siefker added 13 points and 10 rebounds.
It is the second loss in a row for the Aztecs, who were the No. 1 seed for several weeks after the release of power points but now will fall a few places.
Dobson’s Big Three of Hopkins, Justice and Richardson had all been sick over the past two weeks but are now back to normal. The Mustangs hope this win will give them momentum heading into the postseason after inconsistent performances throughout the year.
“We can really build on this,” McConnell said. "Tonight was big for us."